The planned sale of SandrewMetronome's cinema chain to rival SF Bio has been stopped by the state-runSwedish Competition Authority which has ruled that the deal would give SF Bio amonopoly on the Swedish market.

"Our opinion is that thedeal conflicts with the Swedish laws of competition and therefore we suggestthat it be cancelled," said Erik Westerstrom of the Competition Authority.

The red light from theCompetition Authority means that the case will be handed over to the districtcourt, which will decide if the deal is to be finally stopped.

Bonnier-owned major SFBio's purchase of the country's second biggest exhibitor Sandrew Metronome'scinema chain was announced in August.

The deal, which would seeSF Bio control more than 75% of the Swedish exhibition sector, was heavilycriticized from the very beginning.

It now remains to be seenif anybody else bids for the Sandrew Metrodome chain. As reported on ScreenDaily.comin October, independent exhibitor Triangelfilm has emerged as one potentialbuyer. Observers say Modern Times Group is also another potential buyer.

Sandrew Metronome's cinemachain consists of 22 cinemas with 90 screens in 15 cities throughout Sweden.The price of the chain is $13.7m (SEK 100m), excluding the cost of thenecessary restoration of approximately a third of the cinemas.